Handbook of Social Capital
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Handbook of Social Capital

The Troika of Sociology, Political Science and Economics

Edited by Gert Tingaard Svendsen and Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen

The Handbook of Social Capital offers an important contribution to the study of bonding and bridging social capital networks, balancing the ‘troika’ of sociology, political science and economics. Eminent contributors, including Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom, explore the different scientific approaches required if international research is to embrace both the bright and the more shadowy aspects of social capital. The Handbook stresses the importance of trust for economies all over the world and contains a strong advocacy for cross-disciplinary work within the social sciences.
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Chapter 10: Social Capital in East-Central Europe

Natalia Letki


* Natalia Letki Introduction Transformation in East-Central Europe (ECE) is now almost 18 years old. It has been an unprecedented event, due to its unexpectedness, but also its complexity. One of the key questions asked about the direction of changes in the post-communist states has been whether the transformation process was one of the ECE states simply ‘catching up’ with the mature Western democracies, or whether historical, cultural and political heritage created specific circumstances which would lead to different mechanisms than those observed in stable Western democracies. The former – ‘modernization’ – approach seemed to have prevailed, as almost all theories created on the basis of observation of mature democracies were being applied to ECE, with varying degrees of sensitivity. Social capital was among them. When the concept of social capital swept the academic world in the early 1990s, it became popular in the new post-communist democracies of EastCentral Europe as well. In many ways, it was a continuation of an already decade-long discussion of the importance of civil society for the quality of politics and economics. The concept of social capital, and social trust in particular, has been present in the research on post-communist transformation since. However, while the causes and consequences of trust and associational activism have been thoroughly examined in the stable context of Western democracies, the research on new democracies is rather more patchy. Research and recommendations from the leading social capital scholars point to the importance of building civic activism and interpersonal trust in transition, but...

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